Department of Classics & Religion
Classical Association of the Canadian West
Playing with Eros on the Acropolis: Aristophanes on Desire, Power, and Athens
Mark Munn , Penn State University
Friday, March 17, 2017
“Playing with Eros on the Acropolis: Aristophanes on Desire, Power, and Athens” examines the place of Eros in the Athenian pantheon, tracing his rise from a daimon animating personal relationships to a thematic force in civic religion of Periclean and post-Periclean Athens. Witnesses to the erotic element in Athenian political thought include Thucydides, Plato and Aristophanes, the last of whom exploits the comedic potential of a city led by the whims of desire. His Lysistrata, when seen in its specific setting among the monuments at the entrance to the Acropolis, provides not only a satirical portrayal of the failure of masculine leadership when confronted by feminine will, but also a trenchant critique of the Athenian celebration of their love of power.
Mark Munn is Professor of Ancient Greek History and Archaeology, and Head of the Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Penn State University. Mark works in the fields of Greek historiography, intellectual history, religion, Greek topography, rural economy, and fortifications. His particular interest in Thucydides and the intellectual culture of Athens in the late fifth century is represented in his School of History: Athens in the Age of Socrates (University of California Press, 2000) and most recently in “Why History: On the Emergence of Historical Writing,” pp. 2-23 in Ancient Historiography on War and Empire, T. Howe, R. Stoneman, and S, Müller, editors (Oxbow Press, Oxford 2017). The intersection of religion and political culture is represented in his Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion (University of California Press, 2006). Love of the Greek landscape and how it was politically constituted, economically exploited, and militarily defended is represented in his contribution to A Greek Countryside: The Southern Argolid from Prehistory to the Present Day, by M.H. Jameson, C.N. Runnels, and T. van Andel (Stanford University Press, 1996), and by his Defense of Attica: The Dema Wall and the Boiotian War of 378-375 BC (University of California Press, 1993). Mark has conducted excavations at the Athenian fortress of Panakton and survey in the Attic-Boiotian border region of the Skourta plain